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It happens to me without fail every September: I'm so fooled by chilly San Francisco summer weather that I don't even summer's slipping away until it already kind of has. And in that moment when I remember, I go overboard, buying my favorite warm-weather produce: Frog Hollow emerald beauts, Iacopi Farms favas, and corn from Brentwood. But especially tomatoes. I'll find myself buying anywhere from five to 20 pounds of fresh tomatoes, especially dry-farmed early girls, and just do everything I can to savor them, from eating them out of hand like apples to making caprese salads. I recently rediscovered chef Brian McBride's incredible recipe for pickled farm stand tomatoes, and I made a large amount of them to preserve the last of this season's crop (which has, quite literally, run dry much earlier than usual this year).
So the early girls are gone, but I have another obsession at the moment: sweet, equally-thick-skinned sungold tomatoes. Right now, these little pops of tomato flavor taste more concentrated than their large heirloom counterparts, which are starting to taste, well, out of season. Although I never tire of snacking on toy-sized tomatoes, I do recommend another way to enjoy them: in this fast and fresh pasta recipe, studded with just-burst sungolds.
Every single component in this pasta is essential to its deliciousness, so use ripe tomatoes, flavorful olive oil, young basil, and quality cheese. But that's the beauty of it: it has a sparse ingredient list and minimal cooking time, yet yields maximum flavor.
Mario Batali's Pasta with Sungold Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appétit
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 6 ounces capellini, spaghetti, or bucatini
- 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
- 8 medium fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- anko breadcrumbs, for garnish
- Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes, season with salt, and cook, covered slightly and swirling pan often, until tomatoes blister and burst, 10-12 minutes. Press down on tomatoes to release their juices. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5 quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
- Transfer pasta to skillet with tomatoes; set over high heat. Add 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook, stirring and tossing often, until sauce thickens and begins to coat the pasta, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining oil, cheese, and half the basil and toss until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Add remaining basil, season with salt, and serve with panko breadcrumbs.
Serves 2 (or in my case, probably just me)